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Dr Herbert Jamieson STEWART

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Major 2 Mar 1878 37y2m 3 May 1915 24 Jun 1916 4

Major Herbert Jamieson Stewart (1878 - 1949)


Family background and early life

Herbert Jamieson Stewart was born on 2 March 1878 in Brisbane, Queensland, the youngest of seven children and sixth son of Alexander and Anne Stewart.

Alexander Stewart was a partner in the merchant firm of Stewart & Hemmant, an elder and trustee at Wickham Terrace Presbyterian Church, later Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, a member of the Scottish Constitution of Freemasons and a director of the A.M.P. Society. The family lived at Wickham Terrace where Alexander Stewart’s first wife died in 1865.

Their only daughter was the mother of the Billington brothers1 whose names are also on the Honour Boards in the Merrington Anzac Memorial Peace Chapel.

Mrs Anne Stewart (née Killough) was Alexander’s second wife and Herbert’s mother.  Herbert had five older brothers and an older sister.  At about the time of Herbert’s birth, Alexander Stewart acquired a 250 acres (100ha) property extending along both sides of Enoggera Creek at Ashgrove and had built there a mansion which he named Glen Lyon after his birthplace in Scotland.

The Stewart family moved to Glen Lyon, now a heritage-listed villa at 34 Glenlyon Drive, Ashgrove.  Built from around 1876 to 1920, it is also known now as Marist Fathers Monastery.  It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register in 1992. Herbert’s mother died in 1905.

The stained glass window at Saint Andrew’s church in the northern wall on the right hand side was dedicated in memory of Alexander and Anne Stewart in 1922.  Alexander Stewart married a third time in 1907.  The wedding to Edith Annie Best (1850–1945) took place on 15 January of that year. Alexander Stewart died in 1918.

Herbert Stewart’s name was listed in the 1901 census in Scotland where he was studying at Edinburgh University to become a doctor.  He graduated MD from that university and also obtained a degree in Surgery, B Ch.  Dr H. J. Stewart commenced his career as a medical practitioner at his Clayfield residence, Wyndlawn, in Sandgate Road in 1909.


On Wednesday 12 April 1911 at St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Sydney, Dr Stewart married Miss Ruby Irene Taylor, younger daughter of Mr William Taylor MLA, Ercildoune, Bexley, New South Wales.  Back in Brisbane, the couple settled at Wyndlawn where their two children were born, Marjorie Elizabeth Ann Stewart in 1912 and Ian Jamieson Stewart in 1914.

Enlistment and service

At the age of 37 years, Dr Stewart enlisted to serve in the Australian Imperial Force on 3 May 1915 and a fortnight later embarked on RMS2 Mooltan from Melbourne with other servicemen and women, part of the 3rd Australian General Hospital unit.  (Mrs Ruby Stewart’s older sister, Miss Mary Florence Park Taylor stayed with her at Wyndlawn to help care for the young children.)

Soon after reaching Suez the 3rd AGH staff transferred to the island of Lemnos, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea near Gallipoli.

 Their arrival coincided with a visit by Padre Ernest Merrington3 from Gallipoli where he had become accustomed to the noisy din of ceaseless firing and flying shrapnel.  It was the practice for a chaplain to go from Anzac to Lemnos for a week to visit the hospital units there. It was Rev. Dr Merrington’s turn to go and he left on 26 July, travelling with Major General Legge, Major Blamey and Colonel Sutton.  He described his feeling on arrival: 

“My joy in finding myself under such a peaceful set of conditions was indescribable. I went ashore, visiting the Greek Church and looking round on the town and countryside4.”

Chaplain Merrington continued: 

“On succeeding days I visited the hospitals and took the names of our men who were patients, with a note of their state of health. A very pleasant surprise was the meeting with Major Lockhart Gibson, an elder at St Andrew’s Church, and Dr Stewart, a member of the same congregation in Brisbane. They had just arrived with the new No 3 Hospital party on board the Simla, where I had dinner with them afterwards5.”

Within hours the hospital began receiving wounded patients.  Numbers of casualties increased dramatically due to the August offensives taking place on Gallipoli Peninsula.

Dr Stewart himself was treated for sickness in late October.  His wife received a telegram stating: 

“Regret reported Major H. J. Stewart admitted hospital London suffering from jaundice will promptly advise if anything further received.”

In mid-November however a medical board at Horseferry Road in London reported the patient had ‘quite recovered’ from enteritis and jaundice.

Dr Stewart returned to Mudros at the beginning of December 1915.  After the evacuation of allied troops from the Gallipoli Peninsula the hospital staff left Lemnos for Egypt thence to Brighton, England.  

Unfortunately it became clear during the early months of 1916 that Major Stewart would not be fit for further active service following an operation for varicose veins. His return to Australia was therefore recommended and approved. He sailed per hospital ship Port Sydney on 24 June 1916 and his appointment was terminated on 29 August.

Post war

Dr Herbert Stewart returned to his wife and infant children and his medical practice at Sandgate Road, Clayfield but the sudden death of his wife following an attack of pneumonia in September 1919 was the cause of great sadness.  

Mrs Ruby Stewart’s sister, Miss Park Taylor who had resided with her and the children during Herbert’s overseas war service had subsequently served as a VAD6 worker in Egypt, taking charge of a Red Cross kitchen at Moascar.  She had returned to Brisbane just a week before her sister’s death.

Dr Stewart and his young family continued to live at Wyndlawn, Old Sandgate Road, Clayfield.  The family worshipped at Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church where Marjorie joined the choir and Dr Stewart became an elder.  

Dr Stewart's daughter, Marjorie, married Norris Octavious (Paddy) Vidgen at a ceremony conducted by Rev. Norman Millar at Saint Andrew’s Church in September 1938. Her younger brother Ian was a groomsman.

Dr Stewart’s only son Ian served in the AIF in World War 2, was awarded a Military Medal and gained the rank of captain but died in a military hospital in Brisbane in July 1945.  His military funeral was held at Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.

After dealing with so much death and pain during the war, Dr Stewart embraced life, delivering thousands of Brisbane babies between 1919 until his retirement in 1948.


Dr Herbert Stewart died in 1949 and the Saint Andrew’s congregation recorded this tribute in its annual report:

“Death invaded our Session on July 16th when the call came suddenly to our beloved elder Dr Herbert Jamieson Stewart.  Dr Stewart belonged to the best known family in St Andrew’s for his parents Alexander and Anne Stewart were among the pioneers of our congregation and among the very generous supporters of it.  The outstanding trait in the doctor’s character was his abounding cheerfulness and joviality.  He never faltered in his great task of happiness. … Kindness was another of his great characteristics.  By his unfailing kindness he won the affection of his patients.  His unbending integrity also won for him the esteem of the medical profession.  The death of his son, Captain Ian Jamieson Stewart, in 1944 (sic), was a sore blow, for the bond of affection between father and son was rare in its strength and beauty.  He was also a man of deep religious faith.  In the Scots fashion he did not wear his heart on his sleeve, but his religious faith was deep and real.  We miss him from his accustomed place.  His eldest (sic) sister, Mrs Mary Hawthorn7, did not long survive him for she passed away suddenly also a few weeks later on September 21st.  She was a gracious lady, foremost in good works and a great lover of her Church8.”

Dr H. J. Stewart’s name is remembered on Honour Boards at Clayfield Bowls Club and the Merrington Anzac Memorial Peace Chapel at Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church, Brisbane.

1. See Billington Brothers’ stories on this website- Alexander, Norman and Richard
2. Royal Mail Ship
4. Memoirs. P 74
5. Memoirs. P 74
6 Volunteer Aid Detachment
7. In 1894 Mary Stewart (1868-1949) married AGC Hawthorn who was later appointed to the Queensland Parliament Legislative Council
8. Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Annual Report 1949, pages 20/21

Select Bibliography
• National Archives of Australia, World War 1 and World War 2 military records
• Australian War Memorial - Roll of Honour, First World War Embarkation Rolls
• Queensland Register of Births Deaths Marriages
• New South Wales Register of Births Deaths Marriages
• Merrington, E. N., Rev Dr, Memoirs, unpublished, 1949
• Ancestry on line
• 1901 Scotland Census records
• Australian Electoral Rolls, 1909-1949
Brisbane Courier, 17 April 1911, page 9; 18 July 1949, page 10; 9 September 1919, page 11
Courier-Mail, Brisbane, 10 September 1938, page 1; 18 July 1949, page 10
Sunday Mail, Brisbane, 29 July 1945, page 5
• Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church Archives, Brisbane
• Queensland Heritage Register
• Brisbane City Council Cemetery Records
The Healers—a tribute to the doctors and nurses of World War 1, video., Healthier Queensland, Queensland Health
• State Library of Queensland

Written and compiled by Noel E. Adsett, Brisbane.  July 2016 ©



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